An ‘education support centre’ that was judged “inadequate” by inspectors is to move to a new site in Hatfield.

The Park Education Support Centre (ESC) – which provides education and therapeutic support to pupils who may have been excluded from their secondary schools, or who may be at risk of exclusion – is currently split between two sites in Potters Bar.

The buildings on those sites have been branded “unsuitable”, “austere” and difficult to get to.

And on Monday a meeting of the county council’s cabinet agreed that the ESC could move to the former site of Southfield School, in Travellers Lane, Hatfield.

The move comes after an Ofsted inspection last year said the facility was “inadequate” – which, in turn, led to an order from the Secretary of State that the school should become a sponsored academy.

The Links Academy Trust has said it would take on The Park – but only if it is relocated.

At the meeting of the cabinet, it was agreed the former Southfield School buildings could be leased to the trust for a peppercorn rent.

And it was agreed £500,000 would be used to refurbish the site, so it could be used as an ESU.

However, land surrounding the school building will be retained by the county council.

Cabinet members were told that many of the issues highlighted in the Ofsted inspection had been connected to the quality and the location of the school’s Potters Bar accommodation.

The High Street location was said to be “unsuitable”. And the Field View Road site was said to be “an austere environment in which to learn” and “not fit for purpose”.

Meanwhile, they heard that two-thirds of the 154 places at the school were filled with pupils from Welwyn and Hatfield.

So, it was said, the Hatfield location would make the school more accessible to pupils and the schools that referred them there.

Earlier in the day, the plan had been unanimously backed by a meeting of the county council’s education, libraries and localism cabinet panel.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Anthony Rowland did question whether more of the land surrounding the building should be made available to the school.

But Simon Newland, assistant director for education provision and access, told the panel that ESC students often returned to mainstream schools for sport and PE.

He said it was not unusual for ESCs not to have external playspace – pointing to their role in re-integrating children back into mainstream schools.